“George, the tithe is the best practice,” the pater said. Our stewardship conversation had gotten ‘round to the tithe, and I’d figured, dive in. “I do not tithe.” I had their attention, the pater’s too. “Do you have a plan to work on it?” he inquired. “No, not in the sense that I use envelopes and when the cash runs out . . . ‘Then you’re out’ another said. “Right. We do proportional giving and we steadily increase our giving year by year.
We couldn’t meet our pledge last year. We were afraid. I told our rector. He said, ‘Not to worry.’ I’m thinking, ‘I gave my word.’ I’m embarrassing myself and us. I don’t like reneging but I’ll own it, especially amongst stewardship peers. I’ve some pride and I value and respect standing. It’s hard to earn and easy to degrade. In our parish we have a little standing. My wife was Senior Warden. I’ve served on Vestry, served as Treasurer, chair of the Finance Committee. We’ve done more too. I'd tell folks, “I don’t speak for my wife. My wife doesn't speak for me.” I limit the value I place on standing.
I reneged and my wife was taken aback. She did not speak or act then to object. We know we’re pinched. Later I learn our reneged pledge is paid. This I discover from our church statement. She didn’t tell me. “I paid the balance,” she said. “How’d ya do that?” “I sold my ducat.”
“You’re not angry are you?” Weeks earlier she’d told me, in exasperation, and with reason, “Everything makes you mad!” “No, I’m not, I’m proud of you. Thank you.” It was hers. It’s what ducats are for. I was sorry for her loss, felt disappointment but more pride and admiration for her upholding our commitment.
In my past a priest, who was my social and economic peer and friend, betrayed me. I felt shunned in my parish home in which I wedded two times and had friends. A different priest, in a different parish home and another time, spoke to Sarah, his Senior Warden, in a manner unbecoming a person empowered and ordained by the Church. So I’m not to speak my truth with my stewardship peers about our personal financial giving? What’s next? More betrayal, loss of fellowship, and shunning by friends? More powerlessness?
I acted. I spoke truth in person. I reneged in person. I labor to shoulder my part, and at times, not so successfully. People with an abundance of resources, with power to have and to make choices, may self select to hide and may choose to insulate their selves and their choices.
We are real when we strip away hiding and insulation and are accountable.